January 28, 2010

RHJ International Makes Partial Exit from U-Shin

U-Shin Ltd., announced that US investment fund RHJ International has sold a voting stake of 3% in the listed auto-parts maker. The US investment firm acquired about 20% in 2006. In addition to the sale of its ownership interest in U-Shin, RHJ International agreed to sell its 25.5% interest in Columbia Music Entertainment last week.

January 27, 2010

Wilcom Moves towards Pre-packaged Bankruptcy

Willcom Inc. is moving toward rebuilding under court protection in order to make its process transparent and pave the way for receiving public funds, according to Nikkei. The troubled PHS service provider is counting on the assistance of the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan, or ETIC, a government-backed entity that helps businesses in dire straits get back on their feet. With transparency a high priority for the ETIC, Willcom likely concluded that bankruptcy proceedings under court supervision would better satisfy the turnaround body's requirement than a voluntary debt workout would.

January 26, 2010

Bain To Buy Domino's Japanese Franchisee

Bain Capital, a US private equity firm, announced that it would acquire Japanese firm Higa Industries Co., the Japan franchisee of Domino's Pizza. Bain will buy the company from Duskin Co., Daiwa SMBC Capital and Ernest Higa, the founder of Higa Industries. The transaction is Bain's second in Japan in about 2 months. The PE firm purchased Bellsystem24, a Japanese telemarketer, for $1 billion from Citigroup Inc. Higa operates 179 franchised Domino's Pizza stores in Japan. Bain owns a minority stake in Domino's Pizza in the United States. Bain bought a stake in Domino in 1988 and Domino went public in 2004.

January 25, 2010

Kirin, Suntory likely To Reach Merger Pact In or After Feb

Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd. and Suntory Holding Ltd. will likely to reach a merger accord during or after Februrary, according to Nikkei. In a move to create a formidable competitor to the world's leading brewer, Anheuser-Busch Inbev. N.V., Kirin and Suntory are proceeding with merger talks. But Japanese media have reported that a rift has developed between Kirin and Suntory on the merger ratio, the key point in moving forward with plans to integrate their businesses.

January 22, 2010

RHJI sells Columbia Music to Faith

Mobile phone content provider, Faith Inc. announced that it will become Columbia Music Entertainment Inc.'s largest shareholder by taking a 31.39% stake. Faith plans to turn Columbia Music into an equity-method affiliate by spending about 2.7 billion yen to buy stock from current shareholders, including investment firm RHJ International SA, who invested in 2001.

January 21, 2010

H.I.S. Likely To Support Huis Ten Bosch's Rehabilitation

Travel agency H.I.S. Co. is considering taking part in supporting the turnaround of Huis Ten Bosch., an ailing theme park operator in Nagasaki Prefecture, according to Nikkei. Under a likely plan, Huis Ten Bosch would reduce its capital and issue new shares through a third-party allocation. H.I.S. would take a more than 50% stake with an investment of some 2 billion yen, and three to four local companies would collectively spend a little less than 1 billion yen to buy shares. Huis Ten Bosch filed for bankruptcy protection under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law in 2003, after continuously incurring operating losses since opening the theme park in 1992. Nomura Holding Inc., the parent company since 2003, wishes to discontinue its involvement and is seeking a company to support Huis Ten Bosch's reconstruction.

January 18, 2010

Corp Bankruptcies Fall 1st Time In 4yrs In 2009

The number of companies entering bankruptcy with debts of at least 10 million yen edged down 1% to 15,480 in 2009, marking the first decline in four years, according to the major credit reporting agency, Tokyo Shoko Reserch, LTD. The reasons for the decline was emergency guarantee programs and public works projects. The number of bankruptcies in December fell 16.5% year on year to 1,136, marking the fifth straight month of decline.

January 15, 2010

Willcom in Talks with Govt Turnaround Body

Willcom Inc., the leading PHS (Personal Handyphone System) service provider, is in the final stage of talks to reorganize under The Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan (ETIC) according to the Nikkei. ETIC is expected to take an equity stake in the mobile carrier, as are Softbank Corp., Japan's third-largest cellular phone carrier, and Advantage Partners, a Japanese private equity firm. Willcom, owning a total of 93.5 billion yen to about 30 financial institutions, is in private negotiations with creditors, asking for debt forgiveness. Willcom, once it recovered from support of the US investment firm Carlyle Group (a major shareholder), has been losing its customer base because of fierce competition in the mobile phone market.

January 14, 2010

Foreign Net Buyers Of Japan Stocks In 2009

Overseas investors were net buyers of Japanese stocks to the tune of 28.3 billion yen in 2009, becoming net buyers for the first time in two years, according to Nikkei. Although the financial crisis prompted foreign institutional investors to cash out profits early last year, buying outweighed selling from April, the start of the Japanese fiscal year. December saw the largest amount of net purchases, fueled by a pause in the yen's appreciation against the dollar and the Bank of Japan's accommodative monetary policy.

January 13, 2010

Venture Capital Investment Down By Half In 2009

Investment by venture capital companies fell to 37.8 billion yen or 472 cases, in 2009, according to the Japan Venture Capital Association. VC companies invested about 100 billion yen in 2008 and 193.3 billion yen in 2007. The firms struggled to recoup their investments and held down spending as initial public offerings declined and a number of start-ups they invested in went belly up amid an economic downturn.

January 12, 2010

JAL Shares Tumble On Delisting Concerns

Shares in Japan Airlines Corp. were ask-only Tuesday morning on worries that the carrier will be delisted. It was reported last weekend that JAL will file for bankruptcy protection as early as January 19 to press ahead with restructuring with support from the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan (ETIC). JAL and ETIC have decided to limit a possible alliance with either one of the two interested US carriers, Delta and American, to a business tie-up rather than a partnership that includes equity ownership, according to Nikkei.

January 08, 2010

New Finance Minister Kan Says Weaker Yen Preferable

Japan's new Finance Minister Naoto Kan said Thursday he is hoping that the yen will weaken from the current level to help the economy recover. He also said that many Japanese companies think it would be ideal for the Japanese currency to be around 95 yen to the US dollar. It is rare for a Cabinet member to make comments on foreign-exchange levels. Shortly after Kan's remarks, the dollar jumped more than a half a yen to reach the day's high in the upper 92 yen range. Deputy prime minister Kan replaced Hirohisa Fujii whose resignation for health reasons was officially approved by the government Thursday.

January 07, 2010

Dentsu To Acquire 40% Stake In Major Chinese Ad Agency

Dentsu Inc. will take a roughly 40% interest in Suntrend Advertising Co., a Chinese marketer with a presence in more than 500 cities in the country, according to Nikkei. Under their basic agreement, Japan's largest advertising agency will buy Suntrend shares form existing shareholders in the first half of the year for an estimated 5 billion yen, becoming the company's largest stakeholder. Suntrend employs roughly 30,000 workers involved in marketing activities such as distributing samples at stores. Some 20-30 multinational corporations are among its clients including Nike Inc. and PepsiCo Inc. In China, advertisers tend to place more weight on sales promotions at stores than on television commercials because of the nation's large income disparity. With Dentsu's strength in TV commercials, the two partners intend to combine media-based advertising with in-store sales promotions.

January 06, 2010

SMFG Likely To Issue Y800bn In Common Shares

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. plans to issue 800 billion yen in common shares this month and unwind at least 500 billion yen in cross-sharing to shore up its balance sheet, according to Nikkei. The issuance of common shares would be SMFG's second since last summer, aiming at preparing for stricter capital requirements as well as at securing funds for growth areas such as investment banking and Asian and other overseas operations.

January 05, 2010

Orix To Invest Y300bn In Chinese Start-Ups

Orix Corp. plan to invest 300 billion yen in promising Chinese firms in such fields as finance and infrastructure over the next 3 years to tap rapid economic growth in that country, according to Nikkei. Orix will set up a holding company in Dalian this month that will oversee its investment operations in China. The wholly owned company, to be capitalized at roughly 8 billion yen, will procure yuan funds locally and try to reap profits by taking companies public. As its first deal, the investment firm will take a roughly 15% stake in a Dalian-based firm specializing in tourism and real estate. By February, the investment firm will buy stakes in leasing firms.

January 04, 2010

Asahi Brewery, Carlsberg Form Sales Alliance

Asahi Breweries Ltd. will use the marketing network of Danish brewery Carlsberg A/S to sell its beer in Hong Kong as the first step of an alliance that the two firms are considering broadening to include other markets, according to Nikkei. The move comes amid plans by another Japanese brewery, Suntory Holding Ltd., to collaborate with major foreign player PepsiCo Inc. to promote its sales in China. Carlsberg's Hong Kong subsidiary, which has strong ties with local Western restaurants, convenience stores and supermarkets, will begin selling Asahi's flagship Asahi Super Dry beer, the No1 selling brew in Japan later this month.